Toffees preparing bid for France youth internationa

Everton are lining up a deal to sign France youth international centre-back Maxime Esteve, according to reports. 

The Toffees finished 15th in the table last season, 14 points clear of the relegation zone despite receiving an eight-point deduction from the Premier League as punishment for breaking Profit and Sustainability Rules.

Everton’s defiant stroll to safety was powered by a stellar defensive performance, with Sean Dyche’s men keeping 13 clean sheets — only Arsenal (18) kept more — and conceding just 51 goals, with only the Premier League’s top three allowing fewer.

James Tarkowski and Jarrad Branthwaite formed one of the strongest centre-back partnerships in the English top flight in 2023/24. However, the latter is being heavily linked with a move away from Goodison Park, with the likes of Manchester United and Manchester City reportedly weighing up bids.

Branthwaite’s stock has only gone up after making Gareth Southgate’s provisional England squad for the European Championships. Should the 21-year-old depart, it would leave a gaping hole in the heart of Dyche’s defence, with only Michael Keane and Ben Godfrey currently able to step in.

Keane has been with Everton for seven years now, but has found himself out of favour over the last couple of campaigns, making just nine Premier League appearances last season. Godfrey, meanwhile, has enjoyed his best moments as an Everton player at full-back.

Everton target Maxime Esteve

According to a report from French outlet L’Equipe, Everton are exploring the possibility of signing Esteve following Burnley’s relegation to the Championship.

Esteve — capped nine times for France across various youth levels — only joined the Clarets on loan from Montpellier at the end of the winter transfer window. However, Burnley announced the loan had been made permanent in May after the defender impressed across 16 Premier League appearances.

Despite his short time at Turf Moor, Esteve is unlikely to want to play Championship football next season. L’Equipe’s report states that Everton will face competition from West Ham for the 22-year-old’s signature and that both clubs have already taken ‘initial steps’ in their bids to offer Esteve an immediate Premier League return.

Even if Everton convince Branthwaite to remain at Goodison Park for one more season, they face an uncertain summer with the likes of Jordan Pickford, Amadou Onana and Dominic Calvert-Lewin all drawing interest from other clubs.

It’s thought Everton will have to raise serious funds from player sales this summer as they continue to battle against Premier League spending rules.

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